The Art of Retail Merchandising
Right product, right place, right time – that’s what we know makes a retail business tick! And it’s the merchandising department that is pivotal to this formula with its remit on optimising the sales for any retail business – so often the function is over shadowed as a profession by its more glamorous sister position - the Buyer, that can take more of the glory of a successful retail business. However it’s the Merchandiser that should equally command this acknowledgement by successfully buying the product at the best margin and keeping the Buyer ‘in check’ and adopting the role of 25% Buyer to their 75% Merchandiser, questioning the amount of buy, options/SKU’s, price, weighing up the sale through rate against a mark down to sale scenario. A simple diagram illustrates this relationship between the functions below:- 75% 25% 75% We are finding in today’s environment the Merchandiser has to be more commercial, understanding the financial implications of the buy on the cash flow and how important it is to trade and optimise the margin to ensure the best return on the buy, the discerning Merchandiser will question the buy. The questions that a retailer should be raising include:- Would you rather sell out of stock and hit full price meeting your margin? What are the implications of not buying enough stock and having a great sale through rate – is it a loss of sale scenario or can flipping the coin mean an overbuy with excess stock for a sale item? Zara maintain the first option, the lack of stock sometimes creates that ‘impulse buy’ - ‘when its gone its gone’ leaving the customer knowing that that the buy could be completely missed, the effect this has is actually two fold, firstly creating a good sale through and secondly returning interest from the customer who will be compelled to buy for FOMO (fear of missing out) reasons. The merchandiser should be the architect of the buy particularly for ‘bricks & mortar’ stores ensuring there are enough of the right options to optimise the allocated space - continuously with new buy options - working closely with Buying and of course allocating. Merchandisers should question the business on buying scenarios such as:- What would be the implications of reducing size ratios and obtaining a better cost price? Would it be better holding griege for RTD garments and being more flexible to market need? The business of merchandising is trading and the more the merchandiser is commercially aware with sound knowledge of the market, their competitors and their customers, this will put them in a winning business position. After all Retail is Detail! If you are looking for new opportunities within Merchandising - get in touch with the team!
V&C’s Digital Breakfast Event!
V&C’s DIGITAL BREAKFAST EVENT! in collaboration with Google and Boden. V&C are proud to announce a unique breakfast event focusing on how brands can drive sales directly to consumers, without relying on third party websites. Google will be revealing how brands can best drive sales directly to their websites, improving margins and customer engagement. Boden will be giving an insight as to optimising content placement on your websites, to allow increased traction and sales delivery as well as discussing the power and value of capturing the behavioural patterns of your customers in order to maximise revenues. V&C has become a leading agency in assisting brands to embrace the digital revolution, and Matthew Vohs will be giving you an insight into how V&C has become the go to facilitator for the fashion and retail industry. We are delighted to already have Owners and Directors from brands including Savannah Miller, Live Unlimited, Les Girls Les Boys, Coast and Who What Wear, and many more. Not only will this event be enormously valuable to any brand considering their digital future but it will also provide superb networking opportunities. Please contact Shelley Sokel (email@example.com) for further details.
V&C Sustainability Event!
EVENT NEWSLETTER V&C were delighted to partner with Sartex and Jeanologia for our latest Sustainability Event at the Century Club, Soho on 17th April. Following the huge success of our previous ‘Textile Sustainability Event’ in 2018, V&C have taken it one step further and brought brands and retailers (from the likes of Stella McCartney, Pentland Brands, Whistles and River Island to ASOS, Thought, M&S and many more) together with two organisations re-shaping the fashion industry – creating a more ethical, sustainable and eco-efficient approach to the way we manufacture garments. This event focused on the production of Denim Garments, while also discussing ways in which this approach could be applied to other products. Firstly, we heard from Carmen Silla from Jeanologia. Jeanologia are leading the transformation of the textile industry with their disruptive technologies (laser and eco systems) that enhance productivity, reduce water and energy consumption and eliminate damaging emissions and waste, guaranteeing ZERO contamination. Through their multiple technologies – whether that be the Laser finishing machines, g2 technology or Environmental Impact Measuring software – the impact these are having are huge! Through Jeanologia technology, they are saving 10 million cubic metres of water each year and eliminating the use of harmful substances and dangerous practices. The Environmental Impact measuring software they have developed is an essential tool in monitoring the impact production is having on the environment, as with no measurements there are no improvements. The EIM software classifies into four categories – making the path to increased sustainability convenient to track. Following on from this, we heard from Mounir Zarrad from Sartex. Sartex produce 4M+ denim garments for UK, European and US markets. Vertically integrated, they offer sourcing, design, sewing, washing, dyeing and treatments. By having the full manufacturing and finishing process in-house, they not only facilitate from design to end product but also speed up the time to market and set new standards when it comes to sustainable production. Mounir explained how Sartex are driving the production of denim garments to become more sustainable. Through the use of Jeanologia technologies, Sartex have reduced the average consumption of water in garment wash and dye from 80 litres per garment to just 10-15 litres – with contaminated water being treated and 70% being re-used in Sartex processes and 30% being recycled back into the community as drinking water! Not only is there increasing awareness of the importance of sustainable garment manufacturing, but also mounting pressure from retailers/brands and consumers alike to be more socially responsible. Sartex have implemented a paper-less production line, on-site doctors/nurses and opened a training academy with a capacity of 200 trainees per year – making employment accessible for all. V&C are looking forward to hosting our next event in collaboration with Google, talking around ‘How brands can drive sales direct to consumer without relying on third party websites.
Vohs&Co Celebrate 6 Years and New Website!
V&C New Website Vohs&Co are pleased to announce the launch of our new website which is now live! Thank you to Reverse Delta who worked tirelessly with the business to provide a simple yet effective platform. We hope you enjoy using the site. V&C Events Vohs&Co events team have been focused on providing ‘Thought Provoking Content’ for the Fashion Retail Industry. In April 2019 we look to host Vohs&Co’s next event with a discussion on “How best can we embrace innovation and modern technology within the garment Manufacturing process to create 100% sustainable and ethically produced garments”. As we explore this interesting subject further we will be hosting a breakfast Q&A with Jeanologia from Valencia, Spain and Sartex from Monastir, Tunisia. Jeanologia ( https://www.jeanologia.com) Are the pioneers of innovative washing techniques and processes and have transformed the textile industry with its disruptive technologies (laser and eco systems) that enhance productivity, reduce water and energy consumption and eliminate damaging emissions and waste, guaranteeing ZERO contamination. Sartex – One North Africa’s Largest Denim producers and Tunisia largest export of bottom weight washed garments, Sartex (http://www.sartexgroup.com/about) founded in 1984 produce 4 million garments a year (Supplying Brands such as Timberland, Hugo Boss, Paul Smith, Fat Face, Guess, Calvin Klein, Donna Karen plus many more) Sartex have implemented Jeanologia washing process and intelligence and have successfully applied them to their manufacturing facilities. We look to forward to our forth coming event again around the important subject of Sustainability, Vohs&Co Celebrates 6 Years! ‘’Matthew I’m telling you we have 20 years of experience & knowledge with a great network, we are introducing people all the time, it would be madness not to put all of this energy and passion into a Recruitment company’’ I said 6 and a half years ago. Matthew and I have never looked back. Today we celebrate 6 years of Vohs&Co and WOW what an amazing journey we are on. We are learning, growing and evolving every day. Our team are superb and share our passion and enthusiasm. Thank you to all our clients and candidates old and new who support us by coming back, or approach us to help them grow their business. I can honestly say every day is different, we consult, offer advice and host events related to the industry, whether it’s about sustainability or digital, and most of all we place great people in great jobs! #vohsandcoturns6
4 Reasons to Consider Wholesale
Sadly many candidates fail to consider fully the benefits of a stint or a career in wholesale. I started my career working for a wholesaler and if I weren’t running my own fashion retail recruitment consultancy I would head back into the supply chain like a shot. Wholesale has two shortcomings relative to a career in retail. It lacks the perceived glamour of retail and it doesn’t offer the wider benefits package or bonus that are common in retail. However, there are numerous reasons why a couple of years experience or a career in wholesale is something you should consider. Here are my top four: 1. From concept to the high street – working for a wholesaler means you get to be a part of the whole product lifecycle from conception through production and seeing it onto the high street. Being involved in a product at every step of the way is one of the most satisfying experiences I have ever discovered. 2. Exposure to multiple customers – working for a wholesaler you get exposure to multiple retailers giving you a good overview of the very different cultures and benefits of different companies as well as a black book of contacts that can make you the envy of the industry. Many candidates develop a much clearer idea of who they do and don’t want to work for after a stint in the supply chain – and often it is not who they originally thought. 3. Exposure within the business – wholesale roles tend not to be siloed and companies generally aren’t hierarchical giving you both exposure to the whole of the business and the ability to shape and really make an impact on the company. 4. Opportunity and variety – because everyone works so closely together as part of a team within wholesale you are able to see what people do on a daily basis in a wide variety of roles. This could open your eyes to different roles that you may not have known about before. Working so closely with the factories can be an important for your career. Having a good understanding of what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ and gaining off-shore experience is invaluable while getting the opportunity to visit the factories makes your CV even more attractive! Wholesale is fast paced. Companies tend to be smaller and successful ones grow rapidly providing fantastic opportunities for those who want to seize them. But, for me, the thing that makes wholesale so rewarding is the ability to make fashion happen. I love the journey from creating concepts, to turning them into samples, then securing orders, before putting them into production and ultimately seeing them fly off the shelves. In the unlikely event I ever stop enjoying recruiting for supply chain roles then my final task will be to place myself at an up and coming wholesaler. Depending on your aspirations, some stages of your career may be better than others to work in the supply chain.
Vohs&Co Launch Temp & FTC Desk!
Vohs&Co today launched a temp and contractor desk to be headed up by Bethanie Crisp. Bethanie Crisp 'I’m delighted to be taking on the responsibility of growing Vohs&Co’s temp desk. Our clients are increasingly asking us for temps and contractors to cope with peaks in their work calendar. At the same time ever more candidates are taking advantage of the lifestyle benefits that temping and contractor roles offer.” Nicole Vohs 'Bethanie has excellent knowledge and experience working with garment techs, sample machinists, pattern cutters and designers, the areas where we are seeing the highest temp demand. We look forward to the growth of our Temp Desk with Bethanie at the helm.”
Vohs&Co Celebrate 3 Years with a New Website
3 February 2016 Vohs&Co today launched a mobile friendly, responsive website with a new visual identity as the company celebrates our third anniversary. The new site will make it easier for candidates to find and apply for the roles that are relevant to them and uses Vohs&Co’s new design led branding. Nicole Vohs 'Our new website reflects how far we have come as a business in the last three years. We started in our back garden and now employ a great team of passionate and dedicated people in offices in London and Hertfordshire. The team’s backgrounds in retail and fashion mean our clients can speak with anyone on the team and this enables us to work with many of the UK’s leading fashion and retail companies. I am hugely excited by what lies ahead..' Matthew Vohs 'Like our clients, we cannot afford to stand still in such a competitive environment. 'While our new brand identity and website will ensure we continue to attract the talented candidates that our clients are looking for to grow their businesses, it is our team and core values that are paramount to our continued success.'
Shopfitting – A Booming and Evolving Market
The UK shop fitting market is booming. Mintel estimated its value at over £3.8 billion in 2014, growing to £5 billion by 2017. This is supported by the most recent SDEA member survey. Across all respondents the average sales growth over the next twelve months is expected to be 23.8%, with 70% of respondents expecting sales to increase. This is welcome news to an industry that suffered badly during the recession. A few brands thrived in the tough environment, notably discount retailers, but the pressure of plummeting consumer spending hit bricks and mortar retailers hard, driving major brands including Barrats, Woolworths and Focus DIY off the high street. Investment in new outlets was rare as, simply to survive, many retailers cut or postponed any non-essential costs with shop fittings and refurbishments high up the list of cuts for many. Increasing economic confidence in the UK is encouraging consumers to open their wallets once again and retailers are responding both by investing in new stores and by refurbishing existing outlets that had become tired due to a lack of investment over the previous few years. Investing in the shopping environment is more important than ever as the high street seeks to compete with online shopping which now accounts for more than 10% of retail spend. Retailers are looking to make shopping into a 'day out' again - an experience to enjoy rather than simply a task to fulfill a need. Learning from museums, art galleries, airports, restaurants and other leisure destinations retailers are not only increasingly investing in high end shop fittings but are also being increasingly creative about how they engage with and retain their customers as well as skillfully blending the customer's online and offline experiences. Evolving client needs are of course having an impact on the shop-fitting recruitment market. For example, in terms of skills, a trend towards large, high value projects has increased demand for the back office operation skills that are critical if teams are to meet retailers’ demands for innovation, design and tight delivery deadlines. Further to changing skill requirements, there is also increasing demand for fixed term and contract positions. The increasing number of roles is making candidates more adventurous and many are happy to look at fixed term and contract positions as these roles will enable them to develop their CVs more rapidly. For a full picture of how the shop fitting sector (or any aspect of the fashion and retail talent sector) is evolving and what it means for you, please get in touch with us on 020 3668 146
Vohs&Co turns 2 – Welcome to the Party!
Vohs&Co’s co-founders Matthew and Nicole Vohs discuss what makes Vohs&Co Fashion Retail Recruitment unique for clients, candidates, the team and potential employees. Interviewer: 'There are lots of fashion and retail recruitment consultancies out there. Why were you confident clients and candidates would work with the Vohs&Co Fashion Retail Recruitment group?' Nicole: 'Vohs&Co was born from over 20 years of fashion experience in the supply and retail sector. We wanted to establish a reputable agency, drawing on our skills and past experience. We believe by recruiting for roles and positions we know inside out we can be among the best in the sector.I heralded from the supply side, working with SR Gent, one of the largest manufacturers to M&S, before moving to the textiles sector and working with Matthew at Harry Vohs &Son - reputable suppliers of fabrics to the high street stores. Matthew transformed the business into a garment agency supplying high street brands before joining Autonomy Stores, a womenswear retailer that he took from 20 stores to over 65 stores and concessions.' Matthew: 'It’s a simple philosophy. We and our team have done the jobs. We know our sectors. It saves our clients time. It means we are good judges of whether candidates are theright fit for a job and will enjoy the role.' Interviewer: 'Given your extensive experience of the fashion and retail sector, why did you decide to go into recruitment?' Matthew: 'The ability to make it happen for two parties. Getting the right match is a very satisfying experience. My past experience within the industry enables me to fully understand what a client is looking for and what will make an individual successful in a role. All our consultants have that experience and it allows good communication between ourselves, the candidate and the client.' Nicole: 'I have lived and breathed fashion for the last 20 years and worked closely with manufacturers, buyers and designers as well as visiting factories. I wanted to put my knowledge to good use by helping and advising others.' Interviewer: 'How has the company developed in its first 2 years of trading?' Matthew: 'The two of us started two years ago from our garden shed. It’s very exciting to have already grown to five of us based in offices in central London and Hertfordshire.' Nicole: 'We have specialised in three sectors of the industry. We work with wholesalers - garment manufacturers to the high street; with retailers and brands; and with shop fitting organisations.We focus on fabric and garment technical positions, B&M roles, project managers and estimators for the shop fitting department. Latterly with the introduction of Carole Robb, who previously held senior roles with Monsoon, Boden and Kew Design, we have developed fantastic expertise and contacts in design enabling us to grow that area of the business rapidly.' Interviewer: 'You’ve grown from two people to a team of five. Are you looking for more Talent Specialists? And why should they join you?' Matthew: 'Our Talent Specialists are the life and blood of our business. They are the most importantasset to Vohs&Co. They represent the business with both clients and candidates. Businesses need to find the right people to grow while for candidates the difference between finding the right job and a job is huge.' Nicole: 'Because our talent specialists are so important we are always looking for great people. Great consultants combine an in depth knowledge of their sector with a real understanding of the needs of each business and every candidate. It’s a rare blend. Vohs&Co pride ourselves on giving our candidates and clients an excellent service and we can only do this if our team have the right blend of skills!' Matthew: 'We attract great Talent Specialists because we recognise we need to reward performance. Everything is to play for as a Talent Specialist with Vohs&Co. You have complete autonomy in your specific area and as we say ‘you can either walk or run’! The harder you work, the more opportunities present themselves and we offer uncapped earnings potential!' Nicole: 'That’s what makes this industry, and Vohs&Co in particular, so exciting – it’s up to the consultant to make of it what they want. We’ve a great foundation, an experienced team and a client list we are very proud of. We offer a fantastic platform for the best consultants to build their careers and are always happy to speak with potential employees.'
Technologist - A Fascinating Career
When products fail to meet customer expectations, or even worse, health and safety standards, it is deeply embarrassing for retailers and can be costly. It erodes consumer trust and can directly impact profitability through compensation, reduced sales, legal costs, fines and eroded share prices. It is no surprise that product technologists, the people who preempt these disasters, are sought after. While there are labs that specialise in product testing, many retailers consider it too important to outsource and employ product technologists directly. What does the product technology team do? Working on a critical path product technologists are responsible for ensuring all aspects of compliance and quality assurance have been passed before a product makes it onto the shelf. To reduce the likelihood of delays in getting products to the consumer, the product technology team will work closely with the buying team during the sourcing process and then alongside the merchandising team as the product approaches launch. Key responsibilities for technologists include: legal compliance – for example ensuring products don’t contain banned substances and conform to health and safety standards; compliance with company CSR and ethical policies – such as avoiding use of child labour; production capability – ensuring that the supplier is able to deliver the required volume of product to a consistently high standard product durability – putting the product through trial wear programmes Roles often involve working across the business, ensuring that products do not make it to market before they have been thoroughly and vetted. This can be a cause of frustration for the buying and merchandising teams meaning that product technologists need to be hands on and have the confidence and gravitas to stick to their timelines. Product Technology careers Typically product technologists will come from a scientific background before specialising in specific sectors such as hard goods including furniture, kitchenware, outdoor goods, home including dining; electrical goods including microwave, lamps, fans and white goods etc. The career path for technologists is quite consistent across sectors, with specific sector knowledge becoming less important in more senior roles. Junior / Assistant / Trainee Product Technologist Entry level positions in product technology will involve a lot of process focused activities including spreadsheet work, chasing certificates and following up with factories. Salaries are typically up to £25,000 Product Technologists Product technologists take ownership for their product area and manage the assistant technologists. Involved in all areas from product sourcing to ultimately ensuring the product is thoroughly tested by launch is their responsibility. Product technologists will often be required to travel to factories and become involved in negotiations with suppliers. Salaries are typically up to £50,000 Senior Technologists Senior technologists will be responsible for overseeing quality assurance in a number of product areas and ensuring that the processes, systems and skills are in place to deliver this. Salaries are typically £60,000 to £80,000 Head of Technology The most senior roles ensure a strategic approach to and from product technology. The role will see them working across the business to ensure that quality insurance is emedded into other teams systems and that the function is fit for purpose. Salaries are typically in excess of £100,000
Believe in your Recruitment Agency
We’re always experimenting with ways to attract new candidates and looking for opportunities to deliver an improved service to clients. In one of our recent workshops, one factor we identified as making a big difference to client satisfaction was effective two way communication. We find that clients who make time to answer our questions, listen to our suggestions and work with us generally find the right candidate for the role faster. What do we mean: Use our Knowledge Our agency has over 30 years of industry knowledge with our partner consultants coming from senior positions withinDesign; Wholesale Supply; Buying & Merchandising; Technical; and Sourcing. We know and understand the remits that are given to us by our clients having had firsthand experience working in the field. Use our Connections The benefit of having worked within the industry is that we know a lot of people who are employed in the retail sector. We have an active list of connections that we are in regular contact with. This ensures we have both a steady flow of private & confidential positions from clients and a black book of individuals who are engaging with us confidentially about their next career move. Use our Insight Clients will give us particularly important and challenging briefs as a result of our specialist expertise. Our industry knowledge and experience enables us to identify candidates that on the surface may not appear suitable for the role, but who have transferable skills that will enable them to more than meet your expectations. Less is More We manage the process from both sides – less is more in our case as we would rather send 2 appropriate CV’s than 4 in appropriate ones. The Right Culture we find that only 70% of each role is about the hard skills needed to do the job successfully. The other 30% is down to cultural fit and that is equally if not more important. We meet or speak with our candidates before referring them to you. This enables us to assess their personalities and allows us to make ‘the right call’ as to whether the candidate has the appropriate cultural fit. Our view is you can train and develop people but personalities are nigh on impossible to change… The cost of getting it wrong far outweighs the cost of deploying a good agency.
Setting up a UK Sales, Design and Technical Office
The Brief One of the largest manufacturers of soft separates (wovens and jerseys) out of Vietnam approached us to advise them on setting up a UK sales, design and technical office. Their objective was to establish a vertical route to marketing the UK enabling them to fast track their penetration of the high street retailers and brands. The office would provide a reassuring presence in the UK to enable a faster and more personal response, as well as facilitating quality assurance and competitive pricing. The owners of the business retained us exclusively to fill three roles: Technical Director; Design Director; and Head of Sales. Our Approach Having worked on the supply side of the industry we have an excellent understanding and network across fabric and garment productions. We knew that to persuade the high flying candidates we were targeting to leave existing roles at big players we needed to excite them about the potential of a company they had never heard of. We worked closely with the client to develop a detailed job specification that reflected their vision and ambition for the UK and globally as well as building a compelling remuneration strategy. This process was closer to due diligence than a typical client briefing so we could provide assurances about our client’s commitment to their UK operation to candidates we were asking to leave secure roles where they were happy and thriving. The Outcome We met and interviewed the applicants for the three roles before shortlisting three Garment Technologists, six Design Directors and three Heads of Sales. Because we were working with the client on an exclusive basis we were able to focus on identifying candidates who would work together to create a culture and senior management dynamic that would shape a successful and sustainable business. The shortlisted candidates met with the newly appointed Sales Director and then the Vietnamese owners of the business before three offers were made. We identified an outsourced HR provider to support the new business structure and provide appropriate contracts for the successful candidates all of whom accepted the offers. The process took under four months from start to finish. With all successful applicants in situ the UK arm is going from strength to strength forging meaningful relationships with key retailers and brands and is intent on further strengthening the team. What the client said:… ' Nicole and Matthew Vohs gave us incredible support and advise during the recruitment process. Nicole and team worked with us every step of the way in filling these crucial roles and supplying support that extended beyond the recruitment. They partnered with us closely in those first few months and still remain a vital extension to our business. ' Sally Watts Sales Director Concept Clothing UK
Vohs&Co Sustainability Event 2018
On Tuesday 4th December, Vohs&Co hosted a Textile Sustainability Event at the Century Club, Soho. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of the environmental impact the fashion industry is causing and discussing how new developments to technologies can be potential solutions to the problems we are facing and help to make the fashion industry more circular. Here, we heard talks from Nigel Salter (SB&Co) who is a leading international sustainability consultant and Jose Royo (Tejidos Royo) a leader within the textile industry, offering a vertical, 360 ° sustainable manufacturing process to clients in over 30 countries worldwide. On the day, we were joined by a number of professionals from the likes of Marks & Spencer,River Island, Amazon, Long Tall Sally, Boden, Seven Feet Apart, ASOS, Burberry and many more – all focused on having a more sustainable approach to their involvement within the industry. Sustainability and Social responsibility is becoming an ever growing and important area for brands, retailers and suppliers and recent research and findings are putting pressure on businesses to change the way they manufacture clothing. Nigel Salter shed light on just how important it is that we reduce the waste generated from the current ‘take-make-dispose’ model we see across the industry. In order to for the industry to survive, we need to adopt a circular approach in which clothes are designed from the outset to never end up as waste. In 2010, over 150 billion garments were produced – enough for every human to have 20 new pieces. In 2018,where that figure is undoubtedly higher, 85% of the garments produced end up in landfill. Nigel also spoke about the changes we are already seeing and what we can expect for the future. Although many of the facts shrouding sustainability are very negative,we are starting to notice changes that are only expected to increase and improve in the future. For example, we may start to see fully combustible garments on the high street, the idea of leasing clothes rather than purchasing them may become a reality and leather made from mushrooms instead of cows may become the ‘norm’. On the day,we are also joined by Jose Royo from Tejidos Royo, who discussed their innovations around textile sustainability - in particular their newly developed Water Free Indigo Dyeing and Fabric Recycling processes. Tejidos Royo have been championing sustainability within the textile industry with their 360 °sustainable philosophy that covers all levels: social, economic, labour and environmental. The planet is becoming increasingly affected by pollution to the land, air and water which this industry heavily contributes too. As a result of Royo’s actions to be increasingly sustainable, they have created the worlds’first ever Water Free Indigo Dyeing – revolutionising the way we manufacture denim garments. Instead of using water to dye the yarn, the Dry Indigo Dye technique uses foam – eliminating the need for water. In the last three years, Royo have seen savings of 510 tonnes of CO2 and 500,000m3 of water – the equivalent of 200 Olympic swimming pools! Towards the end of the event, a Q&A session was hosted by Nicole Vohs, where a number of questions into the Dry Indigo Technique, sustainability as a whole and recruiting into sustainable/ethical positions were asked. In recent months there has been an increase in the number and the importance of positions where people are solely responsible with ensuring the business is fully ethical and sustainable– something which we can expect to see increase over the coming years
2018 – The fashion industry at a glance…
While there have been concerning times for fashion throughout the year, the outlook on the coming year is somewhat much more positive, with businesses set to embrace the changes and see them as new opportunities, challenges and developments rather than threats. The year has seen changes that are re-shaping the industry – such as increases in apparel/footwear sales in emerging markets, the shift from traditional ‘bricks & mortar’ retailers to online/ecommerce channels, coping mechanisms retailers and brands have had to adopt to survive in an increasingly competitive market and a greater awareness and push on the importance of becoming more sustainable. Not only have we seen an increase in store closures, but we have also seen a decrease in new store openings – leading to interest in how consumer behaviours are evolving over time. With declining numbers of stores on the high street, figures have soared for sales through ecommerce channels, with some retailers even opting to transition their business to being 100% online. In 2017, online-only sales increased by 15.9% - something that is set to rise in the coming years. We are looking forward to holding our next event in the new year with Google, focusing on how retailers/brands can increase awareness of their brand through utilising the digital marketing space. The news has been littered with recent stories of how big name retailers are struggling to cope with an ever increasing competitive market… with some not surviving. We are often seeing brands that have dominated the high street for many years being beaten by the newer, emerging fast fashion brands who seem to attract more customers than ever before. Retailers are having to change their approach and find new ways of sustaining customer loyalty in a market where consumers have so many choices – often at a lower price point and more convenience. In September, Vohs&Co held a table at a breakfast event with Archie Norman, Chairman at Marks and Spencer, which shed a more positive light over the industry, giving an insight into how he is strategically turning around the fortunes of M&S in a 3-5 year plan. With the concerns over sustainability and the future of the planet an ever growing topic of discussion - not only within the fashion industry, but across the board - we have seen an increase in the demand from retailers wanting to elect fashion professionals into positions fully focused on sustainability, ethical compliance and corporate responsibility – proof that retailers are addressing and acting upon the concerns many have about the environmental impact the apparel industry is having on the planet. During our most recent event, where many retailers/brands joined us in discussing new developments to technology which provide a much more sustainable textile manufacturing process, we highlighted just why it is so important to change the way we take garments from the initial design to the shop floor. The article on our Textile Sustainability Event can read in full here Vohs&Co Sustainability Event | Vohs and Co All be it a challenging year, we do feel that the industry is evolving in a positive way, with retailers being urged to ‘think digital-first’, ‘satisfy consumer demands for radical transparency and sustainability’ and ‘achieve ever-faster speed to market’ – as explained in the McKinsey report ‘The State of Fashion 2019: A year if awakening’ https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/the-state-of-fashion-2019-a-year-of-awakening The team at Vohs&Co are continually developing, learning and working effectively with the changing market place – be it in form of Consultancy, Executive Search or Global Talent Resourcing across our key areas,including Design, Production and Technical, Wholesale, International and Executive, Buying, Merchandising and Sales and Retail Operations and VM.
Your CV will be the first impression a prospective employer or recruiter gets of you and that first impression is crucial. Create a great impression and it will lead you to that all important interview. The number of job applications an HR department receives is typically enormous and hiring managers won’t read through a lengthy CV. In fact it is not unusual for the time spent deciding which CVs make it to interview to be as little as 2.5 seconds. Perfection is of the essence and therefore your CV must stand out and be counted. Keep your personal information short. Skip your family details, marital status and current address; it’s just taking up space and time. Stick to name, current place of residence, objective, and a short profile of your career history. Focus on your proficiency. What skills have you acquired? What are your strengths? Give the reader a good overview of your skill set (by category: languages, marketing, sales, etc.) and list chronologically the dates of your previous positions. Provide details of your previous responsibilities and achievements. It is important to summarise the businesses that you have previously worked for in a sentence (not everyone may know your previous employers’ businesses and what they do); explain your job function and then identify your key responsibilities and achievements whilst at that company or in that position. Showcase your personal interests and non-work related activities. Personalities are critical in today’s market, it’s what gets you noticed rather than just experience. Use this opportunity to put your best foot forward and get acknowledged for extracurricular activities, the voluntary community work you do and the networking events you organize.
The Counter Offer
You’ve handed in your resignation & have a confirmed start date in your new position. Things are looking up in your career as you were successful in your interview, and now your recruiter is tying up the final details with your new employer. However, instead of just saying thanks for all your hard work, shaking your hand and wishing you all the best on your new move … your current boss makes a counteroffer: A salary increase & perhaps a promotion. This may be not what you expected, but it’s made you think: It’s made you think that you are a valuable asset & your current company really doesn’t want you to leave. It’s flattering to believe that you are a key employee – and there’s no doubt that you are, if you’ve been pulling in profits and winning new business consistently. But in many cases, resignations can hurt your manager who is just simply thinking about the cost; of replacing you. Businesses always want the very best from their workers & if it’s cheaper to pay you a little bit more and promote you into a better role, then it buys them the time … to find a replacement for you, when it suits them! After all, a good boss, in a good company knows that there are plenty of other candidates sitting out there who would love the chance to work for their company. It’s just a matter of time … until you become disposable. You may think that accepting a counteroffer may be good for you, but before you accept, consider these reasons why you should decline. Your reputation Once word gets around, you won’t have the same respect from your boss, your team & your peers. Accepting a counteroffer after you’ve made the decision to quit marks you out as indecisive, and this could have the effect that your colleagues lose trust in you. Your team might be left wondering why you have been dealt a ‘special’ deal when they are left without any benefits, despite being loyal to the company. You may find after you’ve accepted, you will be viewed with suspicion & resentment by your co-workers for your show of disloyalty. All the connections that you’ve made in your search for a new position such as: your recruiter, HR departments & the company that offered you a new job will all remember that you decided to accept an offer, so if you ever need their help again, they are unlikely to be as accommodating – or trusting, once they come across your name again. The financial incentive (or bribe) More money may make you happy (in the short-term) but this extra financial gain has to come from somewhere. This could well be money that was allocated for your next annual raise or bonus, so where was this financial appreciation in your last promotion or review? It should make you wonder why you weren’t so valuable enough to deserve a raise before (when you were coming in to work, doing your job, just like everyone else.) After all, it’s expensive to recruit & train a new employee and your salary increase could well outweigh the cost of finding someone new. If you are unhappy in your current job, and this is one of the reasons you have decided to move, then money won’t buy you job satisfaction you desire. Remember … your new company have recognized your worth … from the outset & not as a cost saving afterthought. Loyalty Your loyalty will always be in question, and the whole team isn’t going to forget who went looking for another job, and was on the way out of the door for pastures new. When it comes to future promotions & bonuses – or to start making redundancies, your employer will certainly know who is loyal, and who isn’t. Remember, the management wanted you to stay, for their benefit and if there is a chance that they should let someone go on their terms – guess who is going to be on that list? You are going to leave anyway Statistics show that you will go back to looking for a new job within 90 days. It’s probable that even after accepting a counteroffer, you will be gone within the year. Remind yourself why you wanted to leave in the first place & consider the logic of the offer you were made. If you were so valuable, why did they wait until you resigned to offer you what you are really worth? A counteroffer could almost be considered an insult from a company that just wants to buy your time. This is your career decision and a new journey for you, so don’t let persuasion affect your decision. A financial offer or promotion is likely to get you thinking, but is it possible to achieve your career goals if you stay where you are? Your career is yours alone, so if you’ve decided to move on, then you have already found an opportunity that you believe will be better than your current role. Don’t put your progress & career aspirations on hold, simply because it’s easier to stay put for a little more money. Good companies realise that the best people don’t stay with one company for their entire life and that moving upwards is a natural part of a running a business with a change of personnel. This should make you realise that there are serious problems if you presented with a counteroffer. Resigning is never easy Handing in your resignation is never easy, but if you are handed a counteroffer in return, this makes it all that more difficult to make the right decision. If you come across this situation be polite, thank your employer for the offer, but firmly decline. Remember a counteroffer will just keep you around for a few months until it’s time to move on: either forced, or by choice. If you handle your exit professionally, you will leave without any bad feeling and possibly keep a helpful business connection for the future.
Negotiating Your Pay Rise
Negotiating your Salary is a key skill that will help you throughout your career. Timing is critical and asking for that raise can be disruptive for employers and can catch them unawares. Timing is critical. Can you entwine your request with the pay round? This is usually done as part of the performance management process, annually or raising the subject of your salary during your performance development review (PDR) is an option. Research your market value Negotiating a pay rise is primarily about your value. Get an idea of what you should be asking for by speaking to people doing similar roles to you within your company, in the same sector and in similar organisations. Talk to people you know well so that you're comfortable asking how much they currently get paid and how much they're planning to ask for at their next review. Speaking to recruiter to know a market value is always helpful.. What do you want? Begin with the end in mind. Be clear about why is this is so important to you and your rationale behind it. Why does this have to be done now? Where does your salary fit into overall career trajectory? Understand the organisation's process for making pay awards. Discuss with your Line Manager Your line manager will need to be involved at some point. Even if they don't have the power or influence to make the final decision, it very important to include them in the process from the outset. It's useful to know that they will support you. What have your achievements been? Include examples of your work and projects you were on to illustrate what you have achieved, how you work with different teams and your relationships with key people. When presenting your business case to whoever you're negotiating with, highlight the successful projects you've been involved in and the impact you have had on the business. Draw attention to quantifiable data, such as figures and timeframes. Go over your track record in producing results and other stages of your work history that demonstrate your value and the input that you have had. Discuss and Negotiate Be prepared to discuss your pay at the negotiating table: understand what you deserve and be realistic. How much scope for flexibility are you going to allow? What are you willing to accept or not accept? Consider whether different elements of your pay package could be interchangeable or traded-off. Identify what these are so that you know what your options are. Think about setting KPI’s and targets that are relevant to your role and allow you and your line manager to place a tangible value on your activity. Silence, time and think Don't be tempted into speaking or committing yourself to an offer too early. Negotiation is about pacing. An appropriate response to the first offer might be, 'Thank you for the consideration, I'd like time to think about it before I get back to you'. Each situation is different and you may need more or less time to consider the offer depending on how close it is to what you want and what your other options may be. Even if you think that the offer is perfect, give yourself at a night to think it through and bounce it off other people. Sealing the offer Be honest and don’t shy away from your feelings – within reason! If you receive a raise that's not what you wanted be honest and say 'it isn't close to what I had in mind”. Whether you get what you want or not, you need to close the discussion. Be grateful and appreciate the gesture, invariably it may not always be in your contract and this discussion has developed out of goodwill, so you need to appreciate that and thank the line manager/business for considering your case – politically it may be in your interest to accept graciously any raise as any disappointment can lead to unnecessary future tension.
Make your answers shine You may have heard of the Star technique, but what is it and how can you use it to perfect your interview answers? If you’ve got a competency-based, the technique will be especially helpful. Here, we look at what’s behind the method, with some real-life examples. Answering the million-dollar question Some interview questions you just can’t avoid. “Why do you want to work here?” is one of them. Find out how to make sure you have your answer perfected with some clear and practical advice. A checklist for every interview From preparing what you’ll wear to making sure you improve after each interview, here is a simple step-by-step guide for all your interviews. Beat the first-impression bias If hiring managers make a decision in the first 90 seconds of meeting, how can you stop biases working against you? Your interview with the chief executive As you climb the career ladder – or perhaps if you’re joining a smaller organisation – interviews with the chief executive become more common. Find out what they really want to know, and how you can show you’ve got what it takes, before you start preparing. Finish on a high with great questions At the end of most interviews, the tables turn and you’re asked if you have any questions. This gives you a chance to show you’re on-the-ball, inquisitive, have done your research and are serious about the role. Here are four essential points to consider. De-stress your interviews We are often told to relax when it comes to job interviews, which is easier said than done. But a little preparation beforehand can help to make yourself feel less stressed. Mock interviews make perfect preparation It may be age-old advice, but it still rings true with interviews. Here’s some tips on how to do a practice interview, even if you don’t have an interviewer. What to wear The rules about what is appropriate business attire continue to change and the lack of clarity there has clouded what works for job interviews. Is business casual defined as khaki pants and blazers or is it blue jeans and hoodies? In either case, what works for the interview? If the organization is always business casual, should one get dressed up for the interview anyway? The answer is always “It depends”. What to wear to the interview depends on geography; size of the company; age of the company; age of the people who work there; the department you are in; the weather and just about any other variable one can imagine. Just be able to use good judgment on the “it depends” rule and sin on the side of being safe. There are lots of easy to find rules and guidelines that apply to what to wear to a job interview. You need to feel good about yourself. You need to feel comfortable in your skin, inner and outer. The easiest way to do that is to wear clothes that are comfortable, flattering, age appropriate and that fit.
Case Study – Finding Sourcing Directors for Global
The Challenge A large European online retailer had been looking for sourcing directors for its relatively unknown own label apparel and own label shoes & accessories divisions. With the roles unfilled for 18 months before we became involved the vacancies were having an impact on growth. About the Roles Senior sourcing professionals are in high demand. Trends move so fast in many areas of fashion that sourcing capabilities need to be agile without compromising quality and in such a competitive industry margins needs to be maintained. There is a relatively small pool of individuals with that skill set. Our Approach The nature of the roles meant that exposure to suppliers in the Far and / or Near East was much more important than experience of the European retail market. The first stage was to scope the market, identifying experienced individuals with a track record of identifying suppliers, maintaining quality, managing costs and delivering speed to market.From this long list, we developed a qualified shortlist with the client. We focused on the client’s ambition and the potential of their own label as a critical motivating factor for attracting the right sort of candidate as well as the fact that the opportunities were based in a prestigious location,. The Outcome After only four months we had filled both positions. Following the appointments the own labels have gone from strength to strength and are now international brands in their own right.
5 Years - 3 Industry Trends
Since Vohs & Co was established five years ago three main trends have emerged in the fashion and retail recruitment sector: A growing candidate shortage A dramatic increase in demand for digital and technology expertise The internationalisation of the talent market What is driving the candidate shortage? Brexit and the huge changes in the fashion and retail landscapes have created a climate of insecurity in the industry increasing the reluctance among candidates to move. This makes skills shortages even more chronic for those looking to recruit. Employers need to counter these by showing confidence and a clear vision about how they are going to succeed over the next three years. Which areas aren’t seeing candidate shortages? Technical roles have been widely moved abroad. With the number of firms operating at various price points saturated, the relatively high cost base in the UK and other European countries can make it hard to compete. Furthermore, many companies in the supply chain have or are restructuring, operating on a smaller scale to make themselves more agile and to meet the growing requirements of the retailers in terms of price,product, speed to market and quality. Employers can therefore cherry pick great candidates as the number of roles in these areas continues to decline. For candidates it is important to constantly build your CV or portfolio and develop your skills through training. Thinking in terms of business language – for example: reducing costs, improving sales or margin, or solving other business challenges will help position your services as an investment not a cost. What are the digital and tech roles that are emerging? With the growth of online retail and direct marketing to consumers the number of roles in the areas below has exploded and is continuing to grow: Logistics and operations Ecommerce Digital marketing and social media Content CRM Rapid advances in technology have transformed the operating environment for traditional retailers and the supply chain alike. Everyone from agile, low cost start-ups, to technology giants and traditional bricks and mortar companies are using technology to reduce costs,improve targeting, communicate with customers more effectively and speed up processes.While these roles are business critical for many retailers and fashion companies, this is true internationally and across most sectors, putting these skills at a premium. As a result many employers are finding digital and technology roles hard to fill, which is sometimes having a wider impact on the business. Those who constantly benchmark the packages they offer and who ensure their recruitment processes are swift are finding it easier to fill roles than the majority. For candidates, due to the rapidly evolving environment, there is a need to constantly develop skills,however those who do will find their services are in great demand, especially if they can couch their achievements in language which relates to business impact. The impact of a global fashion market The growth of online retail and the pressures that it puts on both the high street and the supply chain are common trends internationally. As a result companies around the world are chasing the same skillets and talent. Fortunately for employers in the UK, our island is widely perceived as an attractive place to work and has long been seen as a fashion powerhouse making it a draw for anyone in the industry. But this exchange of talent works two ways and plenty of brands and retailers around the world are interested in candidates who have experience of our mature and sophisticated fashion industry. We will look forward at how we expect the industry to change in a future newsletter but in them meantime there is no indication that any of these trends is likely to slow down or disappear anytime soon.
Vohs&Co Recruitment - A Great 5 years
Throughout their combined 35 years in fashion and retail Nicole and Matthew Vohs were consistently disappointed with their recruitment experiences both as employers and as candidates. Out of that frustration 5 year sago they founded Vohs&Co Recruitment operating out of a 'garden office” (glorified shed). The vision was simple: 'To deliver candidates and clients the experience they’d always expected.” From that vision Vohs&Co’s five principles emerged: Understand our market Know our client Know our candidate Anticipate our clients’ needs and businesses Consider a candidate’s next move in the context of their long term career aspirations. Those principles, ongoing investment in training and technology and a constant refining of processes have resulted in two office moves to accommodate the team’s growth as well as the launch of a shop fitting recruitment division. The company’s success is a group effort. To maintain our principles Vohs&Co invests a lot of time internal recruitment and has consequently built a great team who work incredibly hard matching exciting roles and great people. It is a pleasure partnering with so many great individuals both as clients and as candidates and being a part of their growth. Since 2012 we’ve worked with lots of major high street retailers and fashion brands as well as plenty of young businesses who in many cases we have helped become household names.
Tips for Successful Job Hunting
If finding a new job is likely to be one of your New Year’s resolutions, or you’re already searching then read on as this article may be the difference between a confidence sapping, throw-the-laptop-out-the-window job hunt and quickly finding your dream job. Job hunting takes time and energy and it can be frustrating if you don’t feel you are getting the opportunities you deserve. A good recruitment consultant will help you identify potential weaknesses that are stopping you achieving your potential and highlight strengths that will help propel you into your next move. Below are areas that you and they may need to focus on: 1. Get your CV right – fashion and retail is a very popular career and employers receive dozens, even hundreds of CVs for most opportunities. If your CV is to be considered make sure it is tailored to the specific opportunity/ies you are applying for as well as being clear, concise and professional. Read our "CV Hints” guide but also ask your recruitment consultant to critique it. 2. Tailor your covering letter – the job description will highlight the skills and experience the employer is looking for. Show how well you fit the description in your covering letter. Again a good recruiter will review your application letter and share ideas for possible improvements based on the hundreds/ thousands they’ve read before. 3. Clean up your social media profile – if an employer is thinking of shortlisting you then they will often check out your social media profile and even if they don’t do it at this stage of the process, they will if you get through the first round. As a rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t want your Grandmother to see it or read it, then either delete it or lock down your profile. 4. Get interview ready – the time to realise your interview technique is rusty is not during an interview for your dream job. A good recruitment consultant will coach you before the interview, giving you the best chance of landing the role that you really want. Don’t take rejection personally – remember at least 6 people will usually be interviewed for each role. 5. Be open to suggestions – a good consultant will match you to opportunities. They will take into account your personality and priorities and match them with companies which are a cultural fit and roles that will help you achieve your objectives. You can say "no” at any stage during the recruitment process so approach opportunities with an open mind. 6. Prepare properly – if your consultant has a good relationship with the client the will often be able to tell you who will be conducting the interview, the interviewer’s job title and responsibilities, the format of the interview, the general process, how many candidates are involved etc. This will help your preparation and give you confidence. If you are unsure how best to prepare, your consultant can also suggest the sorts of questions you should consider and research you should do in advance of the interview. 7. Use your consultant for follow up – most employers will want your perspective about how the interview went and will also tell the consultant how you came across. Use your recruitment consultant to address any issues that arose during the interview and get the interviewer(s)’s feedback on how you performed. Good luck securing your next step on the ladder and if you want help maximising your chances of landing a dream job then give us a call.
Talent Attraction and Your Reputation
The UK fashion and retail industry is globally renowned but has been in the news recently for the wrong reasons with a string of stories about financial mismanagement and aggressive management practices coming under government and public scrutiny. In our experience a company’s social and environmental behavior has a noticeable impact both on its ability to attract and retain talent and on its license to operate generally. Be it from an ethical, CSR or pay stance - these factors can have an impact on the decisions of employees and prospective candidates to remain with or join an organisations. As a recruitment company we get a privileged insight into how different companies and teams within those companies are perceived. Candidates tell us both why they are leaving their employer and what causes them to reject one role in favour of another. It is clear that good candidates care not only about the working practices of their employer but also the businesses that company trades with which can determine the attractiveness of the company to the candidate. Part of our service to companies is consultancy beyond traditional recruitment. We help clients: get a deeper understanding of how they are perceived and any underlying reputational issues that might be hindering their ability to recruit top flight employees or retain them– given the number of candidates we speak with, we are often able to offer a an alternative perspective based on detailed insight. Alongside staff turnover rates and exit interview feedback companies can use this feedback to understand more about market perception of their organisations exploiting strengths and addressing areas of weakness (if required). NB - our reputation for discretion is critical and we will never risk compromising a candidate. correct misconceptions of their business –if changes to working practices mean that our client’s reputation is no longer fair, or if their reputation simply doesn’t correlate with the realities of their business, then we can address misconceptions directly with candidates. By helping us understand the overall direction, current culture and health of your business, as well as explaining to us any organisational change projects you have implemented, we can tell candidates a credible story that will either counter or reinforce other impressions they have gotten from the market. This independent advocacy often creates a positive ripple effect in the wider talent pool. NB – we will only look to change a candidate’s opinion if we believe their perception of your company is inaccurate as we cannot compromise our own reputation.
Digital Talent - A Critical Investment
The web and all things digital are transforming every aspect of our lives. Fashion and retail, like most industries are no exceptions. Technological innovation has made market places global and reduced barriers to entry, particularly in retail, dramatically increasing competition. Those who challenge and adapt existing business models are surviving and thriving. Those who aren’t prepared to evolve and embrace them are going the way of the bustle. Traditional retail chains need to compete with everything from the endless stream of low cost living room based start-ups through to global giants like Ebay, Amazon and Google, who to complicate matters further are also often important marketing and distribution channels. For many retail businesses the real war is virtual. Data engineers and scientists are using the vast amounts of data businesses collect not simply to maximise profits and reduce costs with the existing business but to reinvent businesses and processes entirely. SEO and in particular PPC offer a transparency on marketing ROI which has always been craved with print and TV advertising but with a flexibility and entry cost point that wasn’t possible with traditional marketing channels. Social media takes retailers into consumer living rooms and marketers are using it for everything from sales to customer service. The user experience on a website, from aesthetics to navigation and checkout can transform a business. You can look at talent as a cost or consider it an investment. In such a competitive industry if you aren’t investing and innovating you are likely to fall behind. Because organisations from banking to local government are looking for these digital skills, good people are in short supply. With former fashion and retail marketers among our team of consultants we have proactively leveraged our reputation and relationships to stay on top of the skills our clients need and to build our talent pool. If you are looking to strengthen your team and would like to speak with someone who specialises in digital and marketing talent in the fashion and retail sector then I’d welcome the chance to speak with you.
Create an Environment Where Store Managers Thrive
Good store managers are too often among the unsung heroes in the retail world. A good manager, given some freedom, can add huge value to a store by way of intelligence, experience, positivity and developing a team environment that persists even when they have a day off or are on holiday. However, not all store managers are given the freedom to achieve their potential as retail owners, managing directors and operations directors understandably look to mitigate against poor store managers by being prescriptive about how shops and outlets must be run. A good store manager will take full responsibility for their store, treating it as if it were their own. Given freedom, not only will they carefully identify and display goods and merchandise to maximise turnover, they will also create an environment that engages both customers and their team. The benefits of a positive team environment on the shop floor are often overlooked. Being on your feet for eight hours a day serving customers while exuding high energy levels and a positive attitude is hard work and without a good store manager there are likely to be significant shifts in morale. A positive environment will lower absenteeism thereby ensuring staff rotas are not disrupted which will increase both IPR (items per receipt) and ATV (Average Transactional Value) as the staff will be familiar with the stock for sale and possible up-selling and cross-selling opportunities. Admittedly not every store manager is capable of creating a great environment autonomously. However, those who communicate effectively both within the store and with head office tend to fare best. Having shown their ability to manage competently within the guidelines they have been given and having secured the respect of those they work with store managers should be given the opportunity to develop and innovate ‘best practices’ to suit their clientele and customer shopping habits. Those who aren’t will soon look for an environment which will allow them to do so. And that’s when we get a call.
People Make the World go Round!
In senior roles the right person can literally be worth their weight in gold to the organisation.The line ‘Money makes the world go round’ is often casually thrown away at the end of a conversation but it ignores one crucial point. It’s people that make things happen, money simply facilitates the process, usually by attracting the right people. Employees are the architects for change and action in any business. Not only do they bring individual skills to the business but in almost every position they link together with other individuals to achieve results that are far greater than the sum of the individual parts. In this respect the fashion retail sector is no exception. For example, Designers spot trends and listen to the customers. They work with Buyers who work with Merchandisers who work with Technologists. It is a mutually dependent ecosystem. Each function brings skills to the process but to get a great product onto the shelf efficiently takes teamwork. An organisation’s ability to create synergies that result in the sum being greater than the parts is a critical source of competitive advantage and generally emanates from senior management. Yet the impact the right person will make to a company in senior roles is often underestimated. A good Buying Director can make a 10% plus return on the overall performance of the business – we’ve seen this happen time and again. An established Technical Manager able to reduce product returns, improve quality and maximise margin by establishing better working practices can make a big difference both to the balance sheet and brand perceptions. What does this mean for your recruitment? When it comes to senior roles consider changing your mindset. Rather than setting the search parameters to limit salary cost, give a description of the person you want to hire and then consider the cost benefit each candidate is likely to deliver. After all, money attracts the people who make the world go round.
International demand for UK talent
The world is your oyster - International demand for UK talent Matthew Vohs is one of the co-founders of Vohs and Coi s looking after senior and executive roles within the UK and internationally, working closely on key positions with well-known brands and retailers. The UK fashion retail market operates in a league of its own. While brands and retailers in most countries are already starting thinking about what to put on the hangers in twelve to twenty four months time, the UK market has driven a change to allow retailers to operate closer to a just in time model, able to switch production (with the help of suppliers) to meet demand in sizes and colours of lines that sell well while avoiding oversupply (and therefore waste) in those where demand doesn’t meet expectations. It’s an ability that every brand and fashion retailer around the world looks to emulate and for those in mid to senior level merchandising and buying positions in the UK it means that the world is their oyster. Why the UK is a world leader While in many countries fashion labels are prevalent, the UK is dominated by large retailers. Retailers look to meet consumer demand with Primark, Next, George, Tesco, New Look and River Island (among others) dominating our high streets in part because they are so good at this. On the other hand, fashion labels look to shape consumer demand, essentially dictating what will be popular and so haven’t built up the same ability to be responsive. Over the last thirty plus years the UK fashion industry has become ever more sophisticated and responsive. UK retailers set extremely high standards and have invested heavily in merchandising systems, processes, manufacturing, training and developing supply chain relationships. The resultant ability to manage stock quantity and quality together with the speed with which clothes can be merchandised in store is unparalleled. The stories of imitations of designer dresses being in high street retailers within a fortnight of them appearing on the catwalk are well known and foreign chains are taking note. The UK trading model has become key and the talent invariably lies within the UK retail industry. What are the opportunities? Buyers and Merchandisers at the mid to senior level are particularly in demand, however anyone with a good understanding of the supply chain and a robust network will be attractive to retailers and brands abroad. Abroad where? The Middle East, South Africa, Australia and Western Europe are all pro-actively looking to attract UK talent. If you want to broaden your horizons then the opportunities are out there. If you would like to find out more, please get in touch with Matthew – firstname.lastname@example.org or 0203 668 1466.
Common Traits of Successful Sales Candidates
In a sector as competitive as fashion sales it is noticeable that candidates who examine the common characteristics shared by people who have made it to the top of the tree climb higher, faster. I have been ‘lucky’ enough – and it isn’t really luck as I’ll explain later - in my career to work alongside and recruit some fantastic sales people. When you look at their CVs those stand out individuals have (generally) moved to the right company at the right time. That doesn’t happen by chance. These people have six things in common. They are selective: the brands listed on your CV matter. Whether they are big or small is less important but they must be respected. The top sales teams will work with big brands they are confident they can grow or lesser brands that they believe have the potential for explosive growth. They won’t work with dying brands that they won’t be able to reinvigorate or with small brands that have only limited potential. They choose a role with potential: while a brand may be going places, your ability to make an impact is also crucial to developing your career. The top people always ensure that they will have the support necessary to make the most of the opportunity. That support will depend on the role but will be a combination of internal support – through product innovation, training etc and external support – in terms of PR, marketing budgets etc. One person on their own can rarely make a difference, you need to be surrounded by the right people, relationships and support. They embody their brand: it is easier to sell a brand you believe in. And if you believe in it you will most likely be a customer. The best sales people are "authentic” – they live and breathe the brands they are representing. They are ‘people’ people: those who rise to the top know other top people. Why? In part it is because top people naturally get thrown together on occasion but it is largely because they have worked hard at building and maintaining extensive networks and strong relationships. They make things happen: these people are independent, autonomous, self-confident and driven but maintain good relationships with contacts. People who make things happen get known. People who don’t are forgotten. They have structured their moves: the best people have planned their careers, thinking about where they want to be in five years’ time and planning backwards to work out how to get there. They may change the destination en route but there is always a destination. Don’t forget that while they have always made things happen they also ‘served their time’ proving themselves at each level but seizing opportunities whenever they have been given them. When building a career in fashion sales, typically people attribute almost all their success to their hard work, talent and passion with a sprinkling of luck. In my experience having a career plan is crucial. Unless you make intelligent, considered career choices you will never achieve your potential. If you want to discuss your career plan then please feel free to call us on 0203 668 1466.
Why 'Brand' Matters to Recruiters
Carole Robb is a talent specialist at Vohs & Co specialising in Fashion Retail Design. Carole has held Design Director with Monsoon, SR Gent, Boden and Kew; and consultancy roles with Mothercare, East and Cath Kidson. Your recruiter needs to understand your brand if they are to find you the right person for the job, not simply a person for the job. In this respect, your brand is as critical in the hunt for talent as the job description and the salary. Some brands will create a queue of candidates ready to drop a resignation letter on their bosses’ desks before they’ve even heard the details of the role. Less prestigious brands will need the recruiter to articulate what makes the company interesting if they are to attract the best candidates, while brands with negative perceptions will need the recruiter to change the candidate's perception. Brand and the type of talent you want to attract... (Very) broadly speaking there are three types of brand in the fashion industry: The elite minority – the high end fashion houses such as Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Victoria Beckham etc. These catwalk brands rarely recruit and are inundated with speculative applications for junior roles. High street chains – these brands make the latest fashions and trends accessible to the general public. Their brand identity is not focused on a "signature” look or feel to the products. From a customer perspective the brand tends to be embodied by the company logo and the shopping experience. Boutique brands – these companies have a signature that makes their products easily identifiable. While the brand identity evolves with general trends, customers return to these brands time after time because they identify with the core values of the brand. Few designers have the technical abilities and personality to be successful in all three types of company. For example, High Street chains typically need designers who are flexible and able to quickly translate inspiration from the catwalk into a wide range of product lines that can be rapidly brought to market at affordable prices. On the other hand when recruiting for boutique brands the recruiter will be looking for designers who understand the essence of what attracts customers to that brand but with the ability to help the brand evolve. Matching the candidates with the culture behind the brand. Although the challenge of developing a list of interested candidates will be different in each case, identifying a talent pool with the skills to do the job is usually the easy part. Any hire is likely to be unsuccessful if they will not fit with both your team's and the organisation’s cultures. That means your recruiter will need to really get under the skin of your brand and to delve into the personalities of prospective candidates, not simply have looked at your latest products on your website.
The Impact of Omnichannel on Retail Recruitment
After a busy start to the year we finally have a moment to share a few insights from an event we hosted recently for our clients from a number of the UK’s largest high street retailers (including Next, Boden, Phase Eight, Hacket, Zalando) at Google’s head offices. The discussion about "The importance & evolving power of omnichannel to the consumer” was far ranging and gave a real insight into how the skillset for working in retail is evolving and transforming. At the heart of the conversation was the need for leading retailers to attract candidates able to innovate and shape in the three key areas below. The first key area they highlighted was data and digital, an area of our business that has grown rapidly over the last two years. Few businesses are better placed to discuss data and digital than our hosts Google and we were fortunate they were so generous with their insights. There are two principal challenges with data, identifying and collecting the available data and adding maximum value to the business from that data. The amounts and sources of data available to businesses are vast and changing fast. The skills that come under digital and data banner are almost as varied - data analysts, data scientists, developers, programmers, social media etc. Whether these data / digital roles are focused on process improvement, stock management, customer segmentation and targeting or something else, candidates with a commercial mind-set and strong technical skills are in short supply and huge demand. Our second theme was that, as has been the case for more than a hundred years, retailers are trying to make shopping ever easier for consumers - often leveraging constantly improving data and technological capabilities. Many firms already offer one hour delivery slots even at weekends; ordering before midnight and receiving your goods the next day is now a reality; soon our bank accounts may be automatically debited when we walk out of a supermarket door - no need for checkouts; our fridges will order our milk when we run low; apps increasingly notify us of special offers based on our proximity to a specific store or our search history... Shopping has never been easier but it will be even easier still tomorrow as retailers pursue a perpetual cycle of innovation. Behind the scenes this same process of removing friction is being applied internally with the same ferocious intensity to make companies more efficient. The third area in which retailers are innovating is transforming shopping from a transactional process where they satisfy a need into a leisure activity where they stimulate the need. Daylesford is an example of a company that has turned retail (farm shops) into the aspirational experience created by magazines. Urban Outfitters nurtures an emotional attachment with their customers providing an environment in which consumers engage with products in a context that relates to their lifestyle rather than simply stacking them high on shelves. The ability to provide shoppers with an environment which encourages them to relate to the product can be transformational for sales. But finding people able to do it is hard which is where we come in.